NICU or L&D?

Specialties NICU



I wanted to get some opinions regarding what aspects of NICU nursing you really like, and if anyone has done L&D how you might compare the two?

I have to complete my request for senior practicum very soon. I started nursing school because I wanted to be in the NICU, however, I have been doing my OB clinicals and really enjoy L&D. I have only been able to spend a few hours in the NICU during my Peds rotation, and I could definitely see myself there as well!

I know that I can't go into senior practicum just expecting that it will lead to a job, but apparently that does happen. So, I feel like the decision is a fairly big one.

Thanks for your thoughts!


75 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics, LTC.

Maybe you'll end up doing both! I know some other nurses who have spent time in the NICU and left because they felt that they couldn't emotionally handle caring for infants in critical condition, families, or aspects of death. I know one nurse who decided to instead further her education and become a pediatric NP, and then various others who just switched over to OB. If you've always seen yourself as a NICU nurse, then go for it; you can always come back to OB or use it as a back-up if you ever desired to. Good luck!

NeoNurseTX, RN

1,803 Posts

Specializes in NICU Level III.

Some facilities use NICU nurses at high risk deliveries. I did that at the first place I worked and with special training, I can do that where I am now (but we have a transport team here) so you get the best part of the L&D experience (in my opinion..the delivery! Laboring women doesn't sound like it's up my alley) and NICU experience.


1 Article; 6,683 Posts

Since you've experienced some L&D, I'd try to get into NICU for the practicum to see what you think about it. I recently finished precepting a senior practicum student who is now a NICU nurse.

Like NeoNurseTX says, you're likely to get some L&D exposure as a NICU nurse anyway. Attending deliveries is one of my favorite aspects of my NICU job. I know not a lick about lochia and I couldn't identify a boggy fundus to save my life, but I like being there to stabilize the baby.


67 Posts

Specializes in NICU III/Transport.

I also enjoy attending the delivery to care for the neonate. As transport nurses, we attend all high risk deliveries.

My first job as a RN was pretty much L&D. I was hired NICU but we transferred almost all the babies to our sister hospital. The hospital that hired me really needed a L&D nurse so they conned me with the idea of NICU. I ended up "cross-training" in L&D. I hated it! It would stress me out soooo much to see the babies in distress in utero. I wanted that baby IN MY HANDS!

It reminds me of the feeling you get when you see a Category 5 hurricane on radar 3 days before it "may" hit your city... then 2 days, then 12 hours... (if you know what I mean.)

I still get very antsy with decels at delivery... maybe it's just cord compression... maybe it's something worse... AAAARGH! :bugeyes:

I'm 100% NICU nurse... couldn't do L&D. In fact, I really don't know any nurses who enjoy both (I don't consider attending the delivery as L&D... it's the "L" part I can't do.) Most really prefer one or the other and they are just as different as Cardiology vs. Oncology.

As for your senior practicum decision, I would recommend that you choose the specialty that you'll most likely pursue employment in. It may lead to a future position in the unit. I ended up doing part of my practicum in ICU and the other in L&D because NICU was not a choice. In nursing school, our local hospitals did not allow students in NICU.

Best of luck in your decision!


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